More Omicron affected businesses able to access financial support

The Government is providing additional certainty for businesses struggling with the Omicron outbreak that they will be able to access the new targeted COVID Support Payment (CSP).

“We are aware that there are a number of businesses which had a very quiet January/early February this year and believe that they will not be eligible under the criteria of the CSP, particularly those in the hospitality sector,” Grant Robertson said.

“We have been working with business to understand this situation, and as we have at other times during the pandemic we have responded by making changes to ensure we support viable but vulnerable businesses to get through this difficult situation.

“There will now be two time periods against which you can compare your current revenue to be eligible for the payment. The original period announced on Monday (5 January 2022 to 15 February 2022) and an alternative option of 5 January 2021 to 15 February 2021. The alternative option covers a period when all of New Zealand was at Alert Level 1.

“Businesses have told us that this additional option will provide greater certainty and cashflow,” Grant Robertson said.

“The comparator period is the same approach as used for the Resurgence Support Payment taken up by thousands of businesses last year. A business is eligible if they can show a 40 percent or greater drop in a seven day period since 16 February this year compared against a typical seven day period in one of the timeframes above.  

Inland Revenue will make the necessary changes to its system to allow applications by businesses under this additional revenue comparison period,” David Parker said.

“This is expected to be completed and available for use from 14 March. Businesses will be able to use this option to apply for each of the three payments.”

Businesses can still apply for the CSP using the original criteria announced on Monday, with applications for the first payment open on February 28, with payments starting from March 1.

“The first payment will be open for application for at least six weeks, so even if a business is not eligible right now, they may find they become eligible during this six week period,” Grant Robertson said.

The payment remains the same, with eligible businesses receiving $4000 per business plus $400 per full-time employee, capped at 50 FTEs or $24,000, the same rate as the most recent Transition Payment.

It will be available on a fortnightly basis for six weeks, meaning three payments in total, each of which needs to be applied for separately. This reflects the international experience that the peak of the Omicron outbreak should pass after about six weeks.

“We will continue to closely monitor the situation and have the option to extend the payment if this is necessary,” Grant Robertson said.